UniFi Diary: Ubiquiti’s Dream Machine lives up to its name with an AiO design

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After relying on my original Ubiquiti setup for nearly two years, I’m finally upgrading to the brand’s recent UniFi Dream Machine. Entering with an eye-catching all-in-one design, the UDM combines four of Ubiquiti’s essential home networking accessories into a single product. Head below for all the details on the UniFi Dream Machine, including how it fairs in day to day usage and more.

A closer look at the UniFi Dream Machine

Historically, Ubiquiti has been in the enterprise networking game, only more recently branching out into the pure consumer space. Its AmpliFi product line does just that, but even the traditionally more professional UniFi ecosystem has become a favorite for home use. I’ve been detailing my journey into setting up a network with the platform for a while now, but one of Ubiquiti’s latest has me making a change. 

The UniFi Dream Machine launched at the very end of last year to much fanfare thanks to its all-in-one design. The cylindrical design packs four Gigabit Ethernet ports alongside a compact form-factor. People looking for the perks of UniFi wouldn’t have to give up the more convenient design offered by traditional routers, making it a no-brainer way to get started.

Why I’m upgrading

After relying on a UniFi Security Gateway for almost two years now, I’m ready to take that AiO design for a spin. My home network is a little unconventional compared to most in that my modem is on the first floor, and the only real place to have a dedicated space for my networking setup is on the second floor. There’s a hardwired connection that bridges the two, but it means I end up having two setups to maintain. As of now, I can’t get rid of the first-floor devices entirely, but opting for the UniFi Dream Machine means I can seriously consolidate the footprint.

Up until now, I’d been using the USG alongside an access point, Cloud Key, and Ethernet Switch from Ubiquiti to supply internet to my family room and home theater devices. But going with the UniFi Dream Machine combines all four of those into a single device and tidies up my setup.

Specs

The UniFi Dream Machine’s specs also made it an easy option to consider alongside its more friendly design. I’d previously been relying on the AP-AC-Pro from UniFi, which has begun to show its age in recent years. The UDM notably stands out with improved wave 2 4×4 MU-MIMO connectivity to supplement its 802.11ac output. On paper, that’s an improvement of 1,733Mb/s speeds for the Dream Machine versus the 1,300Mb/s found on the UniFi AC-Pro. In practice, there were pretty solid performance gains in terms of overall speed, as well as increased range and better performance for multiple users.

It makes a great entry into UniFi 

After first diving into UniFi with the USG, coming to the Dream Machine was like an entirely different experience. While you’ll still enjoy all of the ecosystem’s features once up and running, actually getting configured was an absolute breeze. The iOS app provides a great onboarding experience that took a lot of the more technical knowhow out of the mix. All of the nitty-gritty settings can be accessed after setup, but not being overwhelmed at the start really drives how that this is an easy recommendation for those looking to adopt Ubiquiti’s networking solution.

How the Dream Machine compares

Now for the price, the UniFi Dream Machine enters with a pretty solid value. It’s already noticeably more affordable than building out a Ubiquiti system from the USG, Ethernet Switch, Cloud Key, and an access point, but it compares well to other routers on the market, too.

For me, the big question was how it compared to Ubiquiti’s high-end AmpliFi Alien system. I’ve previously detailed how it’s a seriously impressive option, especially if you’re looking for Wi-Fi 6, but found that it’s no substitute for the power offered by UniFi. That sentiment still rings true, as I’d still go with the UniFi Dream Machine over the Alien router.

Aside from just offering greater flexibility in its overall feature set, the Dream Machine has the perk of integrating with all of the other UniFi devices. So once Wi-Fi 6 access points roll out in the future, you’ll be able to expand your network for the latest connectivity standard.

Final thoughts

The UniFi Dream Machine left a very solid first impression on me when it was first unveiled, and now after getting to put it to the test, I’m even more sold. Home users who want to experience Ubiquiti’s networking ecosystem without having to piece together their own setup from scratch will find it to be an excellent option. The design makes it a great option for those with limited space, and the performance doesn’t disappoint, either.

Buy the UniFi Dream Machine from Amazon or B&H

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